Tennessee lost to Kentucky by seventeen in Lexington a few weeks ago, costing the Vols their #1 ranking and seemingly igniting a Kentucky run towards a potential #1 seed in the fast-approaching NCAA Tournament.
Today, with the chance for revenge in Knoxville, the Vols absolutely handled the Wildcats, winning 71-52 on the strength of tremendous defense and the scoring of juniors Jordan Bone (27 points) and Grant Williams (24), the only two Vols in double figures. But let’s take a look at the final seconds of the game, which featured Tennessee dribbling down the clock with a sixteen point lead.
The aforementioned (and exquisitely named) Jordan Bone was faced with a choice; let the shot clock expire, or put up an attempt. He chose the latter, and it went in. In and of itself, that’s not that big of a deal. But then, after a steal, Tennessee tried really hard to throw down a dunk before the buzzer, too, and it’s so rewarding to the vast majority of neutral college basketball fans who enjoy seeing Kentucky get clowned.
Are there going to be the typical outcries about a lack of sportsmanship or win the right way? Sure, yes, whatever. But it’s honestly not that big of a deal, either, and when you’re a kid whose team just spent a few hours lighting up a rival in your building with 21,000 people going nuts, it’s tough to blame anyone for exuberantly throwing down a dunk, especially one that didn’t even count.
Maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a neutral site rematch, either in the SEC or NCAA tournament. Because these teams are both good, and it’d be fun to see a closer contest between them. (Though if Tennessee wanted to just blow out Kentucky again, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, either.)